FRIENDLY FIRE INTERVIEW: ARTIST RANDY GRSKOVIC
Whats up Randy! How’s things?
I'm doing well, thank you for for asking.
Whats your current location & situation?
I live in Downtown Toronto, Little Italy. I'm sure It's been a very challenging year for us all and interesting because of each individual situation. For instance, I don't have a car and the city of Toronto has been a petri dish of covid-19 so we've been locked at home with nowhere to go. I don't even take public transit so I haven't been outside of walking distance from my house in 18 months. It makes me think that for most of human history our ancestors never traveled that far beyond walking distance of their homes either. Except it's trippy for me because I live in a massive metropolis.
Cool new projects on the go?
My wife and I are starting a jewelry company. Valerie is a goldsmith and designer so I'm looking to join forces with her and create a project we can work on together.
How did you get into the fine art of collage?
Growing up without many resources it was either pencil drawings or collages for me. In the 90's magazines were everywhere so I used to rip them apart indiscriminately and separate the colors so I could "paint" with the paper. As I got older I started to think more about the media aspect of collage and from there got really interested in representational symbols. I think that collage allows me not only to create but also to audit history in a way. It allows me to form creative connections between the past and present.
What is the inspiration for your work?
Death. I think that death is the worm at the core of life. Each day of living is an active protest of death. I've been dead for centuries before this moment. I will die and be gone for centuries more later. Existing like this, as Randy, is a brief window into observation. I think consciousness is the universe observing itself and humans are the storytellers of this process. My artwork is simply me telling the story of my consciousness from my perspective. The only thing I know for certain is that I will die. I'm ok with death and I like facts.
I heard sleep was the cousin of death, so some people NEVER sleep. How important is sleep to you?
When I was young, I didn't sleep at all. I used to work graveyard shifts at Burger King and go to high school straight from work. I would try to sleep as little as possible. That was a bad idea. When I did sleep I started to experience sleep paralysis, a state of being awake while sleeping but unable to move. One day while in this frozen state I saw a blanket figure walk towards me, a hallucination or waking dream. It seriously looked like death and when it dropped the blanket the figure I was staring at was myself. It was pretty surreal. I guess they call them graveyard shifts for a reason. After that experience, I stopped working nights.
Fast forward 20 years and I'm deep into sleep. In order to protest death, I sleep; sleep is the well-adjusted cousin of death. I actually have a device that circulates ice cold water between me and my mattress while I sleep and I vary the temperature based on my sleep stages. I tape my mouth so I only breathe in through my nose. I always wear a sleep mask. I control the temperature and humidity of the room too. The way I think about it now is that if I'm going to spend 1/3 of my life sleeping I might as well get better at it. Like skateboarding, I practice sleeping daily and measure my results. It's the only way to get better and now I have the best sleep of my life.
How much sleep did you get last night?
I track my sleep religiously, one of my daily M.E.D.S (Meditation, Exercise, Diet & Sleep). I'm in bed 10pm - 6am 7 days a week. Last night I only slept 6 hours and 38 minutes with 4 hours and 22 minutes of quality sleep and :45 minutes of deep sleep. I got up earlier today because I was too hot last night.
When do you meditate? First thing, mid day or evening?
I meditate immediately upon waking. I take a heart rate monitor and measure my HRV while still laying down. This gives me insight into my waking state and informs my morning workout. I often will have a "nap" in the afternoon which is a mediation lul to sleep, usually 15-30 minutes. In the evening I'll do it before bed to try and get my sleep score up.
Do you find that helps your creative process? Do you meditate on your work or is the work born from meditation at all?
Whenever I notice I'm procrastinating I meditate. I think procrastination is a symptom of fear. Meditation helps me relieve that fear and realign my priorities. Sometimes I'll meditate with a mantra, "What do I need to do next" without needing an answer. When I'm done the meditation it often just becomes clear what I need to do next and I'll move towards that. I think meditation is a tool, like sleep and diet in order to create a life well-lived. At this point in my creative process, I'm on autopilot mainly relying on the intuition I've built over years of practice. Meditation helps me show up and that's the most important part. I hope that with the artwork I've made people can look at it and find a little space, with the maximalist composition it might shake them out of their daily habits just long enough to pull them back to reality.
Best philosophical quote that sums up all the bullshit of the past year?
Albert Camus, The Plague
There have been as many plagues as wars in history;
yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.
Above: Randy's hypnotic and cathartic process.
Did you know that in the film Herbie Goes Bananas (1980) Paco calls Herbie “Ocho” because he adds the 5 and the 3 from Herbie's racing number 53?
I didn't know that! Very interesting. Val and I got married in the 8th month on the 8th day 2015 (1+1+5+8) 888 - it's both of our numerology numbers. I'm not advocating for numerology but as a collage artist I reserve the right to identify and recognize patterns and put them together in meaningful ways.
Whats your dogs name?
Her name is Otto. It's Italian for 8. Our lucky number is 8 and we love the infinity sign so we had the name before the dog. Destiny.
You recently completed some schooling, tell me about that.
I recently went back to college to get a Post Graduate Certificate in Digital Marketing. Luckily I chose that path before the pandemic so I've spent the whole plague homeschooling. If my life's purpose is to communicate interesting ideas I think it's important to learn all the different tools I can use. Right now I'm focusing on SEO and Video - I want search engines to serve up my content to people who are looking for what I have to offer and I want to use video to engage humans with my ideas. I think it's important to always keep learning. If you're not growing, you're dying.
Whats your take on digital marketing in the age of whatever-age-we-are-in?
To be honest, I think it's the same as it's always been except that now we are operating on a larger scale. Language is coercion and we are all trying to sell something. It's all just communication, negationtion and agreement.
Worst slam on a skateboard?
Once in early high school, while riding tiny wheels and baggy pants, I was pushing hard and passing some girls on the sidewalk. I hit a rock and went flying. I rolled like half a block got all skinned and bloodied up. Those girls looked at me with dead apathy. I obviously had nothing to offer them so they didn't react at all. Sometimes humiliation is more scarring than actual cuts. It's hard to ice a bruised ego.
Best story that involves Color Magazine?
One year Color had asked me to build a trophy for their collaboration with Red Bull, a skateboard video competition I think it was called Shoot to Thrill. It was a really fun project to work on we were given free rein to make whatever we wanted. My friend Simon and made this really dope sculpture that combined gold trucks and film reels on reclaimed wood.
Another story is much more tragic. The Color office and my apartment both overlooked the Vancouver Port in Railtown while it was still a little rough. One day while hanging out in the office we noticed a "John" was with a prostitute in an open-air stairwell hundreds of yards away. We could see cops patrolling the port and right above them was a "crime" but they couldn't see it. Amongst the cranes and movement of the port, there was this organic dance happening all chaos yet somehow connected.
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